NanoRacks-CID (NanoRacks-CID) - 01.31.18

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ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Modern cameras can selectively focus on multiple items in a scene, but capturing images of varying brightness is difficult, as fainter objects can be lost to the glare of brighter ones. A type of camera called a charge-injection device (CID) measures light from individual pixels, which enables pictures of scenes with extremely bright and extremely faint objects. The NanoRacks-CID investigation studies whether a CID can function in space, paving the way for their use in studying planets orbiting around distant stars.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Daniel Batcheldor, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)
Daniel Batcheldor, Ph.D., Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, FL, United States

Information Pending

Thermo Fisher Scientific, Liverpool, NY, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2016 - September 2017; -

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Earth-like planets are most likely to host life.
  • A direct image of an Earth-like planet has not yet been taken.
  • The glare of host stars makes imaging Earth-like planets a big challenge.
  • The latest charge-injection devices (CIDs) can cope with the bright starlight and faint planet light.
  • CIDs have not yet been tested in space.
  • NanoRacks-CID makes sure CIDs can be used in space.
  • Once this research is complete, CIDs are ready for future planet imaging missions.


CIDs are read out on a pixel-by-pixel basis. This means that individual pixels can be addressed (read out and reset via charge injection) without affecting the surrounding pixels. The added electronics needed for this has made them inherently noisier than charge-coupled devices (CCDs), and limited their use for high signal-to-noise ratio imaging of faint sources. The latest CIDs use preamplifiers on each pixel which, when combined with non-destructive readouts, brings the noise down to the level of off-the-self CCDs.
CIDs are 32-bit based, which theoretically gives them the ability to achieve contrast ratios on the order of 1:109. Recent low fidelity testing on a small ground-based telescope in Florida demonstrated a SpectraCAM XDR CID achieving 1:107.8. This shows CIDs have a huge potential to change the way imaging extreme contrast ratio scenes like planets around other stars is approached. However, CIDs are not yet space qualified and are currently at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 4. This NanoRacks-CID mission raises them to TRL 7 making them ready to fly on future planet hunting space observatories.
Once deployed, the NanoRacks-CID begins a predetermined imaging sequence of a static test scene contained inside the payload. This is used to characterize the performance of the CID on orbit. The data collected shows how the camera performs as a function of time. The noise and contrast ratio abilities are monitored, as well as the bias level and dark current. CIDs are radiation hard, but the data is able to quantify the impact of radiation damage in low-Earth orbit (LEO) so that long-term performance can be estimated.

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Space Applications
Scientists are increasingly observing planets that orbit distant stars (exoplanets), but taking direct images of the planets remains challenging. This is partly because the stars’ glare would overwhelm the light of the exoplanet. This investigation studies a type of camera that can take images of bright objects and extremely faint ones in the same field of view, such as stars and exoplanets. The investigation demonstrates that these cameras can work in the microgravity and high-radiation environment of space.

Earth Applications
Charge injection devices read light exposure information in individual pixels, but they require more electronics than charge-coupled devices, reducing image quality. But new versions of CIDs incorporate extra components that improve this problem. This investigation studies the latest versions of CIDs that can capture images of very bright and very dim objects in a single scene. Using CIDs in Earth-observing spacecraft reduces glare from the sun in images of the ocean, and improves imagery of fires and artificially lit cities. Improved images benefit research, as well as search and rescue operations and the military.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols
NanoRacks External Platform (NREP) payloads are delivered to the ISS in individual stowage bags. A crew member transfers the payloads from the visiting vehicle and unpacks them. Once unpacked and inspected for damage, each payload is mounted onto their appropriate position on the NREP baseplate and the final installation of the plate is made onto the main facility. The NREP is then installed on the slide table where it is put out of the JEM airlock and grappled by the JEM Remote Manipulating System (JRMS). The JRMS moves the NREP to its position on the ISS structure where it remains for the nominal 6 month mission timeline.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites

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The 2U Module for NanoRacks-CID. Camera System and Illumination System enclosed. Image courtesy of Florida Institute of Technology and Thermo Fisher Scientific.

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